A Rocky Road to Culinary Chaos

Today was hair day.  Patty scared me silly by standing behind me with the scissors until I swiftly reminded her, quite firmly, that it most certainly was not a hair cutting day.  I am of the opinion that hair cutting is bad for my emotional well-being.  (Parents, I know you wanted another boy & you got me instead.  Sorry about that.  I didn’t have a ton of say in the matter.  But, as a result, you spent my entire childhood making me have my hair cut short.  Now I am a grown-up & {very} much a girl I am going to have long hair for the rest of my life, just to remind you of that reality).  Phew.  Got *that* off my chest.

Nowadays, whenever I have the urge to have my hair cut I take an aspirin and lie down until the feeling passes.  No, Patty.  This is not a hair cutting day.  And anyway, long hair is fabulous.  Braiding can be the answer to even a {terribly} bad hair day & you simply cannot utilize that handy technique if your hair just isn’t quite long enough.

All this hair-braiding talk brought to mind wonderful memories of the culinary chaos that is cooking on live television, since the signature “do” for my little chocolate show’n’tell was always braids.  I’ll see if I can rustle up a photo of those heady times.  Voila!  The show where Teresa Lukens put on an apron & rolled chocolate truffles in cocoa powder & then Rick Lukens proceeded to eat them all.  We had quite the production line going.  Watched by the whole Pacific Northwest.  So messy.  So much fun.

Good Morning Northwest: The Chocolate Truffle episode, complete with braids

Good Morning Northwest: The Chocolate Truffle episode, complete with braids.

I cobbled this Chocolate Tart recipe together for one of Rick & Teresa’s “Good Morning Northwest” Shows.  If my memory serves me correctly (which it somehow seems to do less & less these days) I conjured it up one Sunday between Thanksgiving & Christmas, since it is such a Holiday kind of a tart.  I think I also called it Pie back then, which clearly it isn’t.   And never was.  I just remember thinking that Spokane might not be ready for Rocky Road Tart so I named it Pie instead.  Such fun times with the Lukens on those Sunday mornings at the TV Studios.  Such fun times.  We always laughed uproariously.  Probably way too much.  The Production Crew were just adorable.  Especially when they rushed the set afterwards for fear that all the goodies would be gone before they got there.  I always made extras so everyone could get involved in the ritual post-show chocolate-fest.  After which Teresa always used to threaten Rick that she was moving in with me.  Teresa Lukens – I miss you! 

This recipe is perfect for live TV since it can be made in 3 stages.  (Think “Blue Peter” all you Brits out there: “Here’s one I made earlier…”).  Since I assume that most of you will not be required to make it on live TV I should point out that this 3 stage deal is also an enormous benefit if your life tends to have more small chunks of time for cooking rather than a multi-hour stretch.  You can make this over 3 hours or 3 days, whatever works best in your schedule.  LOVE that!

This is a very simple, but very beautiful & outrageously yummy tart.  Huge “wow” factor.  Just ask Teresa.  Or you could ask Deanna.  I made her one today.  When I delivered it we laughed for 78 minutes straight, mainly about things that likely shouldn’t be mentioned right here.  Such fun times.

Holiday Rocky Road Chocolate Tart (cb)

  • 8 oz McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits (In the US you can get these at Cost Plus World Market or Amazon.com) (Failing that, substitute with Graham Crackers, but only in an emergency)
  • 4 oz butter
  • 8 oz chocolate chips (use the good stuff, your mouth will love you)
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup sliced, toasted almonds (butter toffee peanuts are also particularly yummy)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

STAGE 1: Gently melt the butter in a pan.  Finely grind the Digestive Biscuits (use a food processor or place in a zip-lock bag & beat with a rolling pin) and stir into the melted butter until completely mixed.  Tip the biscuit mixture into a 9-inch loose-bottomed fluted tart pan.  Press the crumbs down with a {straight-sided} glass to form an even layer on the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Use the side of a knife to keep the top of the sides even.  Refrigerate until completely cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STAGE 2: Heat the cream in a pan.  Put the egg yolks in a small bowl.  As the cream begins to simmer, turn off the heat & whisk 1/4 cup of the hot cream into the yolks & then another 1/4 cup.  Then pour the egg /cream mixture  into the hot cream left in the saucepan & stir well.  Add the chocolate chips and stir gently until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is dark, smooth, thick & very glossy.  It takes a little while.

Mix the marshmallows, nuts and cranberries in a clean bowl. Reserve 1 cup of this nut mixture and spread the remaining 2 cups evenly over the tart base.  Pour the chocolate mixture, slowly and evenly, into the tart base, completely coating the nut mixture.  It is easiest to use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to do this as it’s way more controllable than pouring from a heavy pan.  Do not overfill the crust, but make sure all of the filling is covered.  You will be left with about ½ cup of the chocolate mixture.  Set this aside at room temperature.  When that tart is filled with the chocolate mixture, carefully place in the refrigerator to set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STAGE 3: When the chocolate mixture is set sprinkle the remaining cup of nut mixture over the top of the tart.  Remove the fluted ring from the tart but leave the tart on the metal base as it makes it much easier to transport.  Drizzle (or pipe) the remaining ½ cup chocolate mixture back & forth over the surface.  Return to the ‘fridge to set.

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